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November 2, 2011

Arkansas State prepares for Florida Atlantic

Arkansas State looks to extend their winning streak as they go on the road to face Florida Atlantic.

Currently, the Red Wolves are on a five game winning streak, and head coach Hugh Freeze is tied with Steve Roberts (2002), Gene Harlow (1955) and Jack Dale (1931) for most victories ever by a head coach in his first season at Arkansas State.

Success has come at a fast pace for the Red Wolves this season, and Freeze is proud of the effort.

"I'm real proud of the effort. I will keep coming back to that," said Freeze. "I think for the most part our kids have played 60 minutes and played extremely hard. We've made some foolish plays and done some bonehead things, and I've probably put them in some bad situations from time to time with calls, but our kids don't flinch and they don't blink - they just play the next play and I give our coaching staff a lot of credit for that."

Freeze also made a plea for the fans to fill the seats for the remaining games.

"I think people that would take a chance to come and see us, I think they would enjoy the effort and passion that our kids play with."

While the team has already gained enough wins for bowl eligibility, Freeze wants his squad to take one game at a time, and wants them to approach each game as if it is the most important game on the schedule. The same holds true for a Florida Atlantic team still searching for their first win of the season.

"We have to prepare for each game as if it's the most important game, and we preach that daily. I preach it to our coaches in staff meetings and I preach it in team meetings with our kids," Freeze said. "Our coaches in their position meetings are certainly preaching the same message to them. That is a concern that you always have. This game is on the road at a place we haven't won against a team that's talented enough to beat us. I know they we will be motivated to beat us and we have to have the same motivation and preparation we've had for the past few games in order to go down there and win."

Freeze also stated that there will be no changes in preparation for Florida Atlantic.

"We won't change the way we prepare at all - we will treat it the same exact way." Freeze said. "Hopefully our kids have gotten into a routine now to where we understand that we prepare for every game the same. The facts are that we still have the stigma of not playing very well on the road, particularly when we get on plane rides it seems like. Hopefully we can break that a little bit this weekend."

Despite the losing record on paper, Arkansas State coaches are very concerned about the Florida Atlantic offense.

"[Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack] is very impressed with their tailback. He's a physical guy that runs behind his pads extremely well, has taken care of the ball extremely well in his career with the exception of one game and that's Middle Tennessee," said Freeze. "But, I know that it is an offense, as we experienced last year that can shorten the game with their run game and their controlled passing game. That can make for a scary afternoon if they're converting and keeping us off the field with opportunities to move the football. So, obviously they've struggled in the win‐loss column, but I still don't see it as an 0‐7 football team talent wise."

Freeze also gave his thoughts on the FAU defense.

"Their front definitely causes you some problems in their 3‐4 scheme." He said. "They're constantly moving and they're quick twitch guys. They're not slow guys. They can give you problems with all their movements that they have and their linebackers run extremely well. Not that they are bad in the secondary because they are deep their too, but I do think that the strength of their defense is up front."

"They have two guys that are projected to be NFL draftees. I'm very impressed with Kevin Cyrille," Freeze continued. "I think he is one of the best d-linemen in the conference, if not the nation. Their secondary is very athletic also. Two teams have put up considerable yards against them that we've watched, and that's Middle Tennessee and Louisiana-Lafayette. North Texas scored a lot of points, but had less than 300 yards of total offense. So, I'm very impressed with them."

While Florida is known for its sandy beaches and in some cases its night life, Freeze does not believe that will be a distraction to his team.

"Well if it's not at the hotel, (our players) won't experience it. I don't know what the hotel is like or where we are staying - I don't ever even ask, I just show up." He said. "But we won't be taking any trips to South Beach or anything. We will try to guard them as best we can. I'm concerned about the game, period, but I'm that way every week. I know that FAU has enough talent to beat you, and that's the bottom line whether we're playing it here or there. Playing there adds another element to it, but not so much about it being in Boca Raton."

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